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Friday, December 24, 2010

The inner call

Manisha Gupta

This is about an interesting incident that had occurred in the early seventies. My father was travelling by bus. He had bought a box of sweets for the family. But when he was told it couldn't be found in his bag, he remembered he'd kept it in the bus overhead luggage cabin and forgot to pick it while getting off. We were sad as it happened to be our favourite sweet. Anyway, by evening, we had forgotten it.
And then a great surprise on the next day. Perhaps many of us would refuse to believe that the next evening, the box of sweets arrived at our place, intact. The conductor of the bus had noticed the piece of luggage left over a seat, remembered that my father had got off to but it.
On his way back, he made it a point to deliver the packet to us. He took all this pain for just a kg of sweets left by a passenger! How sweet!
That reminds me of a recent news item that said that a passenger's BlackBerry mobile phone had been picked up by another passenger at an airport. And this wrong doer was a person with a senior and responsible position. What a contrast between the two incidents! This is all about man's inner voice, his conscience. Only that some listen to it and others don't.
Unfortunately, today people don't listen to the call of their conscience, run after things materialistic, in the pursuit of happiness, in search of some unknown satisfaction.
They don't have time 'to stand and stare' at their own selves, no time to ponder or think over issues, no time to even look within. This is the reason why values are depleting faster than the earth's resources. We must think hard and restore the good values of life. Only then there would be peace and happiness in the world.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Your guest, your honour

Ashok Vohra

The Upanishads, Manusmriti, Ramayana and Mahabharta provide answer to the questions, `Who is a guest?' and `How should he be treated?' The term for `guest' in Sanskrit is `atithi' -one who visits your place without prior notice.

The Taittriya Upanishad, commands, “Do not turn away anyone who comes seeking your hospitality“. It enjoins that the atithi be treated as god at par with one's mother, ancestors and teacher. This command is explained in the Mahabharta by Lord Krishna: “Finding an old person, a child, a tired traveller or a vulnerable one at the door, a householder should offer him worshipful hospitality, with the same exuberance in his heart, as he would to his own teacher“.

According to the Mahabharta, “The one who appears at the door at the proper time, even if he were an outcaste or such a one as partakes of the flesh of dog, deserves to be worshipped with the offering of food“. However, Manusmriti goes a step further. It does not make a distinction between appropriate and inappropriate time of the guest's arrival. It commands that irrespective of the time of arrival, be it suppertime or otherwise, the needs of the guest must be attended to.

Without bearing any displeasure, the host should treat the guest with grace and courtesy. The guest, according to Manusmriti, should be “offered a seat and water, as well as food according to the host's ability“.
According to the Ramayana, “food should be offered with all the ceremony and honour.
In addition, the guest may be provided a “place for resting and greeted with kind words“. If the host is unable to offer food, he should at least provide him with “a stretch of earth to lie down, a bed of straw, a bowl of water, and pleasing speech“ says Manusmriti. This deep concern for the guest in the Indian tradition is there because at the transcendental level, the host and the guest are identical. The host sees his own self in the guest.
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The way to react

Neela Sood

We get disturbed once in a while. To what extent we are disturbed directly depends on how intolerant we are to the environment in which we are living. Behavior of people in such situations differs from man to man. For example, a few snap back instantly, few start shouting, a few seethe with un-controllable anger, which gets manifested in the form of some, abuses and even assault at times.

It is also too much to expect most of us to be like Socrates who even after having been treated with a bucket of ice cold water over his head by his ill-tempered wife in the presence of his friends and admirers had the capacity to project the incident as an act of timely first aid by his caring wife who “had come to know“ that his head had become very hot consequent to a long talk he had delivered. Nor we can be like Sant Tuka Ram who after having been hit with a sugar cane on the head by his wife replied wittingly to her that she saved him from taking the trouble of breaking it in to two pieces, one for each of them.

Then what to do? An incident from Buddha's life has the answer. Once, while moving with his disciples, the Buddha asked one of them to bring water from the nearby pond only to be told by his disciple that the water was muddy. He asked his disciple to wait and then get it. This time water was clear. Buddha told his disciple that last time when he went the horse cart had just passed, leaving the water in the pond turbulent and muddy. Similarly, when confronted with such provocations in day-today life withdraw your self for some time or engage yourself in some other activity.
Act when you feel that the tempers have already cooled.

It can save us from many unsavory situations; and above all from the bout of anger, which harms us, first and then others.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Man of Gold

This is a law of nature - the thing that has a weight comes down towards earth. Steam, gas etc. that are weightless go up and vanish in the air. As the things become heavier, the faster they move down according to Newton 's law of gravitational force. Same law is applicable in cosmic system and systems of nature too. If a tree is full of fruit, its branches will bend down. A man whose soul is full of gravity and values will be very much down to earth, generally walks with his eyes down – he can be easily ‘bent’, changed.

One real incident I want to share with HT readers. Last month while going to my office, I saw an old Sardarjee, who parked his car on the side of the road, digging out some dust from kacha side of the road. I watched. He picked up a handful of dust, walked to the middle of the road and sprayed the dust over the mobil oil which was spread on the road. He covered the oil so that no one skids.In that traffic was moving but not a single person showed any concern or took note of the sagacious Sardarji.

Sardarji did all this for others – so that no vehicle should skid and no one should injured. He showed me the way of dharma, duty and how to value other lives.

According Rigveda, the universal truth propounded explains the universal order of life in 3 planes:

Internal (of the soul or self)

External (of the body in terms of dharma or worldly life)

Spritiual (of onbe being’s link with the cosmos)

This Sardarji taught me the 2nd universal order of life. Hitopadesa says – “Good men are like gold – difficult to break but easy to mend and bend.”

Kamal Wadhwani
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Legalizing Animal Instincts

India is a hot country. Our customs and our practices accordingly require people living in an ordered society to regulate sex. Our shastras, Vedas and other holy books guide us to restrain sexual indulgence up to the age of 25. But it is very strange that high court has legalized homosexuality. Unnatural sex and unrestrained indulgence in sex destroy civilizations.

Go back to the Bible. In the Old Testament, we are told that the cities of Sodom and Gomorhea – note the names – were destroyed by the wrath of God on account of immoral ways of the people. And the ancient Persians hated the Greeks because they practiced homosexuality and lesbianism – there was an island Lesbos – and through successive invasions were instrumental in ending the high Greek civilization.

Our society for the last 5000 years has survived because it is founded on values. Three cardinal values are – niyama, a preferred way of doing things, sanyama, individual and social restriant and shraddha, respect for things/people/values/society.

It is unfortunate that the country’s official policy since 1950 has promoted the opposite of these values – freedom to do what you want to do, indulgence and an absence of respect for age, knowledge and values. Our society will undergo a cataclysmic conflict between the India governed by English knowing westernized, urban elite and the mass of people – what form it takes and when, we don’t know but an ancient civilization that has faced so many challenges will not give up.

How can a judge say that moral values of a society are not the basis of law. Then what is the basis? A borrowed constitution? Animal instincts?

This philosophy has inbuilt destruction. Open display of vulgar sexuality on the roads, media and official support for all this – this is the road to ruin.

The best way is to let unnatural practices be just as we let gutters be. But we do not open up the gutters and glamorize them.

We are in trouble because all the rulers – politicians, officials, media persons – have been educated in an educational system that as a matter of policy excludes the intellectual texts of our civilization and feeds them on the diet of an alien culture with the result that those who come out of this system are at best ignorant and at worst have contempt for their own culture. They are driving this society.

Last week I was watching the debate on India TV on this issue. One of the debaters, a doctor said to Baba Ramdev that he does not know about science and human psychology. Is the doctor aware of what India has over thousands of years explicitly said about sexuality, normal and deviant? Or is he wiser than all the thinkers and texts that are till today object of deep study in major western universities?

Are we animals? Will we go on to legalize all animal instincts – violence, revenge?

But I think we are not in an age where thinking is popular or respected.

Kamal Wadhwani
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Om Namah Shivai

Usually and normally devoted to his own natural duties, man can attain the highest state of self-realization. Worship of the celestials, service of the parents and other elders are also

ways to self-realization. There is a drshtanta in Bhagwata. There was a sannyasi, an ascetic who had attained siddhis, extraordinary powers, through yogic meditation and rigorous asceticism.

He had performed tapasya for 12 yrs. When at the end of 12 years he got up from his meditation, his body was be-smeared with dust and bird-droppings. He washed himself in the river, performed ablutions and sat down under a tree for prayer. A sparrow’s droppings fell on his head and interrupted his dhyana, meditation. Anger suffused his self – he looked up focused his sight on the sparrow and the sparrow at once burnt into flames and was reduced to ashes by his anger at having been disturbed in his prayer.

Filled with his sense of power and pride in his power of tapas, he stood up and walked to a village for bhiksha, ritual asking for food. He came to a hut and asked for food. A woman’s voice told him to wait.

Having waited for some time, he lost his patience and called out to the lady of the house again – “Bhiksha dehi (give me alms)”He heard her voice again – “Please wait”. The sannyasin, full of pride, rejoined – “ You do not know who I am?” Soon after the housewife came out and said, “Revered Sir,I am not like that sparrow which your anger reduced to ashes. My husband is ill, his head was in my lap, and I was massaging his head to relieve his pain. When he fell asleep I came out to do my duty to your good self.

The sannyasi chastened and stunned asked her, “Pray tell me, how did you come to know that my anger had burnt the sparrow? It happened so far away.” The house wife with great respect and humbly told him that she had only been doing her duty honestly and preparing herself to make all sacrifice for her ailing husband. She added, “I am nothing - not a doer at all – only a means for action to manifest itself. I am at peace with myself”.

Hearing this, the sannyasi’s ego fell off - he bowed down to her, touched her feet and went away wiser and kinder.

Kamal Wadhwani

20-b pkt-b


Ashok Vihar


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spiritually ambitious


The tragedy today is that we people are working with very limited individualistic ambitions. Instead of working with own ambition, if people work for a deeper vision of life for themselves and for everything around them, then there is no need to scale anything down.

And also when you do this, your ambitions would never be in conflict with anybody else's vision too because fundamentally all human beings are working for well-being. It is just that the scale of how we handle human well-being may be different from person to person. For one person, well-being may just mean his own well-being. For another, it may mean his family's. And yet for another, it may mean for himself and for his community etc, etc. So, if every human being, instead of working with individual ambition, which is bound to be in conflict with somebody else's ambition, works with a vision for well-being as a whole, then there is no need to scale down anything. All I am trying to say is why you are so stingy about your desires? Why don't you be magnanimous?
Why don't you be infinite in your desires? It is not just about “I want to be well.“ I want you to be really greedy with your ambition and desire to say: “I want the whole world to be well. I want the whole existence to be well.“

Ambition can be a big problem so long as it is limited to your own welfare and does not extends to others. If you scale it up to its ultimate level, then ambition could be a spiritual process. It can be a process of liberation.
Ambition is a process of entanglement only if you keep it small. If you take it up to its ultimate possibility, become absolutely, utterly ambitious, then you are spiritual and it is fully justified.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Life's Gains, Misses

Manisha Gupta

The little gift my husband's friend's mother gave me when they came over to our place recently was an eye opener. I opened this beauti- ful, flower shaped golden and white box inquisitively to see what it contained.
You can't believe my sur- prise and excitement at find- ing another, identical but slightly smaller box inside the first one. My curiosity and anxiety rising, I opened the second box only to find yet another smaller identical version of it.
I was really curious, my excitement heightened and imagination flying beyond control as to what gift could fit into such a tiny, cute box.
With trembling hands, excit- ed mind and a fluttering heart, I opened this little, decorated container, only to find nothing inside.
But it taught me a big les- son. It dawned upon me that this is precisely what life is.
You go from one layer to another, from one event to the next, from this end to the other with thrill, excitement, anxiety and curiosity and go on unfolding the mystery of life at every corner. But little do you realise that at the end of it all, there is nothing. Just emptiness, a vacuum to be precise.
And it is all about our expectations.
We get thrilled when our expectations are met, and we get into a `low' when we find nothing. That's how we err in the journey of life. We fail to realise that life is like a game of gains and misses.
So, we must learn to enjoy unraveling the mysteries of life, have fun going through it, keep the excitement on while crossing all the hurdles and difficulties because you never know which "box" is the last one.
And be always a happy walker in the journey of life because life is in the journey, destination is only death.
Even death turns out pleas- ant if your journey is pleas- ant. The "boxes" may or may not contain anything, but your attitude should always be: Enjoy the process of dis- covery.
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